City centre in the era of consumer culture

Adriana Portella*, Alan Reeve

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper analyses the importance of commercial signs in contemporary cities, and explores the theoretical concepts that might be helpful in understanding the operation of commercial signage controls in historic places. The focus is on issues that cluster around theories of consumer culture, as well as on the practices of city centre management, city marketing and urban tourism. The discussion is predominantly concerned with commercial city centres because these are places where different functions and meanings coexist. They are often places where different commercial and non-commercial interests have to be managed or reconciled. City centres are also public areas where human experience is given meaning and valorised through signs, symbols and patterns of behaviour, which result from a combination of physical and symbolic factors of the built environment. In many cases, the commercial city centre coincides with the historic core of a city, and the challenge of the local authority is to combine all functions with the preservation of historic buildings and places. At the end, this paper discusses how forms of aesthetic control over commercial signage can be applied to preserve local identity and stimulate commercial and touristic activities simultaneously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-300
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Urban Design and Planning
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


  • Pollution
  • Public policy
  • Urban regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Architecture
  • Urban Studies


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